The Easel

I love the white page, the blank canvas. I love its emptiness. There is such a profound quality to the untouched paper. It could become… anything.

The artist and page are joined by an idea. That first mark takes away an infinity of possibilities, and defines the journey. Somewhere between the idea and the paper there is…a meeting.

Like most children, I drew. I never stopped. I remember the polluted powder paints at school. The disappointment of finding five or more colours in every plastic tub.  Those beautiful rare moments when a tub was refilled with virgin powder, and suddenly it was full of warmth, and brightness, somehow alive and full of light.

I remember felt tip pens, and all the lost tops. Iron hard cheap colour pencils and tissue thin paper. Dropped pencils forever broken.  All those cheap flaking paints and the flatness of its colour.

I started to spend money on expensive pencils. I remember the first proper quality gouache paints my sister gave me as a present. I still have the tube of sky blue, a colour i love so much I continue to use it sparingly.  My first oil pastels were another present from my sister. They lay forgotten for years, yet left home and moved to university with me. One night, while living in a cold grey factory overlooking Nottingham, I found them again in a flash of colour and inspiration and have loved them ever since. My dad gave me my first technical pencil and Staedtler eraser, and I once spent a week’s giro check on a single pair of compasses.

I went to art college and enjoyed two inspiring years in an old bus station, surrounded by wonderfully creative people. My days were spent in an ever evolving maze of rooms, filled with easels, drawing boards, pencils, paint, charcoal, textiles, paintings, sculptures and architects models. The air was thick with the smells of oils, thinners and fixative. One summer a student’s escaped parrot brought a sudden flash of colour and feathers.

I discovered art that left me speechless.  Cezanne, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Pissaro, Vermeer, Turner…. I once sat for over an hour in front of Monet’s ‘Houses of Parliment, London’. The colours never stopped unfolding. I rushed home torn between the urge to paint and the urge snap all my paintbrushes…

I still feel so young in this journey. My inexperience frustrates me, and I suspect I will never be happy with my own work. Somehow I always fall short of that perfect vision. But I love the white page. The moment before that first mark is magical; anything could happen. I love the process of shaping emptiness into a wordless narrative. I cannot explain the reason I draw. But I hope one day I can paint it.

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